This was my second ever float and I want to warn you that unless you really want to know more about the floating experience, my personal one, click on one of the word cloud buttons in my blog and find something that is more relevant to your interests.
When I first started floating back in 1987 it was something quite new. I was sales and marketing manager for a company that was very successful, but being embezzled by its CEO which was apparently a recidist pattern for him, but one I didn’t find out about until after it had cost me and some of my colleagues a lot of money and stress. I won’t mention the company, some of you will know the story. It’s really just to say that I was working really hard, bringing in some amazing 6 figure sales, and stressed, partly because at the time I knew something wasn’t koshur but I didn’t know what. I do wish some of the people who knew the past history of this criminal had warned me, because I would never have accepted the job and would probably have followed the career path opportunity to Santa Clara that stood before me.
So I go from there to the following experience, which is pretty long and unexpurgated. It’s basically my journal and pretty geeky. So here goes:
“I don’t know at this stage if there is any relevance or not, but shortly after my first float I felt a sensation in the region of the right-front part of my brain. I have felt it several times since, almost as if another sense is trying to find its way out. It has no other manifestation other than a slightly happy feeling accompanying it, which may be psychosomatic. It feels related to and yet isolated from the optical nerves.
Today, (Sunday) I had my second float, one and a half weeks after my first. I did not feel as stressed, although I did feel a need for an aid to relax. I was also keen to follow through on the principles of floating which I had started reading about. There was a force driving me to write down my experiences. A sense that something good was going to eventuate from this, far more than just relaxation.
The last week has been very tiring. Thursday was marred by arguments with the CEO and other stress-inducing problems. In the afternoon I left Auckland and drove to Palmerston North (About 350 miles). The Sales Engineer and I finished setting up a demo at the hotel we were staying in at 11:30PM.
The demonstration did not finish until after 4PM the following day, which was followed by further arguments with the CEO. It basically came down to, I was bringing in cheques from clients for 6 figure sums of money. They were being deposited somewhere and I was being told the clients hadn’t paid and to chase them for the money I had already handed in. I had never experienced a con artist like this and this being one of my greatest values, I really didn’t know how to handle it.
By 8:30PM, I was exhausted, driving back home I was starting to drift to the wrong side of the road. I decided to stay overnight in Taupo. I can’t remember the last time I felt so exhausted and overemotional. I write this because it relates to my mental state when I had my second float.
So back to the float. I was much more relaxed physically and settled in very quickly.
I did not experience the same heaviness in my neck and shoulder muscles, which suggests that much of the physical effect from the first float was a release of long term muscular tension”
Note, I am pretty much copying what I wrote verbatim at the time. It’s raw and was only really written as a personal journal. It’s quite interesting reading this 32 years later. I also want to note that I was not under the influence of any drugs of any kind.
“The muscles that felt tired and were unravelling this time were those I had just used for 1,200km of driving; arm and leg muscles.
-Mental / physical disorientation. The first example was a feeling as if I had my legs crossed at the ankles. Although they weren’t crossed (I checked), my senses were convinced that they were.
An ex-client once lost a hand in a chainsaw accident. For months afterward he felt pain in the fingers of a hand that no longer existed. (AKA Phantom Limbs)
I had a similar manifestation on several occasions that I was clenching my fists. Again I knew that my hands were open and relaxed (in the yoga nidra position, palms up). It was not just a feeling that my fists were clenched, my sense of touch had no doubt at all. However, I raised my hands, they were as I knew, open and relaxed.
I passed into and through the REM state much more quickly than in the first occasion. I find the REM state enjoyable and relaxing even if my eyes seem to be going to town.
I finally reached a point where my mind and senses were totally blank. This must be very similar to the point people seek with meditation. It was a sense of being nothing, or an infinitesimal body in a black void and being totally relaxed and comfortable with it.
I believe that this period lasted for only a fraction of a second, although it appeared to be a long time. As soon as I realised I was in this state, I snapped back to reality.
I have noticed a tendency, which makes me feel a little cautious, possibly stopping me from achieving total relaxation, in that my respiration rate is reduced to a mere fraction of normal, and there are in fact periods where I do not breathe at all, at least in comparison to my normal conscious state. The breaths are so far apart that when they come, they distract me.
I also noticed that after the first float, for 1 or 2 days, my time sense seemed altered. For example the time period between light changes at traffic signals seemed much longer, although intellectually I knew this was not so. (Weed smokers will probably relate to this, but I promise, I was totally straight).
Other than that there is little to remark upon. The second float was understandably a little anticlimactic and the endorphin level much lower than it was previously. I was advised by the manager to expect changes over the next few days.
Meanwhile, my driving muscles are feeling sore and I do not feel the same sense of euphoric confidence as I did the first time.”
I think like most experiences, the first is often the most moving. Reading back through this, it is probably very boring, but being a geek, I was trying to analyse the experience, as well as enjoy it. There were in fact physiological and psychological ongoing benefits from this which I will write about in my next blog.
As I have said previously, these blogs are personal and I share them in case they are of interest to someone and to remind me of previous times. If you haven’t floated before, or you want to get more out of your experience, I also recommend keeping a journal.
If it sparks your interest, go and visit Float Culture and tell them that my blog vaught your interest and Luigi sent you. If you are not in Auckland, just Google float tank and I’m sure you will find one reasonably close by. Anton, the owner of Float Culture told me that there are now 19 places in New Zealand where you can ‘float’. I’m sure that is a record and shows that there is real benefit from this experience.
If you have been following my recent posts you will know that I have decided to set up 150 values based activities or experiences to achieve in the next 5 years, having been told that I am now in remission from cancer.
I have always been fascinated by lava. Living in New Zealand, I have been to White Island and experienced sulphur plumes, seen active crater lakes and live a few kilometers from Rangitoto Island, a dormant volcano in Auckland. I’ve seen bubbling mud and enjoyed geothermal hot pools, but I have never seen actual lava pouring down a volcano.
So Life List #5 is to go to Hawaii and experience this from a helicopter or whatever safe way we can get to see the fire coming out of the belly of the earth. of course while there, we can also get to experience another part of island life, Pearl Harbor and other aspects of the islands.
As I was sipping my pleasantly flavored urinary alkalinizer this morning, I was thinking back to yesterday. Because I had a few radiation free days over Christmas, I had to go in to the hospital twice for my photon blast. Sounds a bit like a cocktail drink doesn’t it. Maybe I should invent one when I’m better. It’ll be a purple drink that will knock your socks off.
When I got home after the second bout I was planning on playing guitar or something but I didn’t really have the energy to do anything.
It’s an odd feeling. I was expecting to feel tired and I did, but its a different type of tired. The radiologist defined it quite astutely this morning, if not a little close to the subject of attention, when she said “A lot of men find themselves feeling knackered when they have two doses in one day.”
In my part of the world knackers are slang for testicles if I need to be any clearer, but in this sense it relates to the exhausted state at which horses or other livestock are no longer of any use to their owners and are sent to the knackers yard to be rendered into pet food or other items of greater usefulness.
Anyway, I was feeling a little more energetic as I got changed this morning for day 19 of my treatment. Back in the groove as it were, getting into my lava lava, chatting with others in the waiting room and then heading for LA 3 to watch the purple light on the radiation machine spin around my torso.
I feel like I should be doing something like walking, or painting the fence. But I might have to be a bit like rally driver Possum Bourne’s uncle who I used to work with at Tait Electronics. He said to me that whenever he felt like going for a run, he would lie down until the feeling passed.
I have written a speech this morning, which I hope to be allowed to give at a dear friend’s wedding next week, so I haven’t totally wasted the day.
Anyway, I hope you’ve all had a great Christmas and wish you safe travels if you are heading away to celebrate New Year’s Eve. I have 3 days off treatment and will be joining the throng heading for the winter-less north, although I have been receiving weather forecast emails containing severe rain warnings. Not a problem though, I’ll have a guitar or two with me and good company. I wrote the song Raglan Rain on just such a trip. Maybe my muse will come with me.
A study done by the Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center in New York, revealed that drinking and driving resulted in the death’s of 2,700 teens in the US, compared to 3,000 from texting and driving.
How about a quick, honest but anonymous poll:
I was listening to the Peggy Smedley Show this morning while cleaning the bathroom and enjoyed some great interviews in her Distracted Driving Month series. The topics were great, everything from the value of reversing cameras through to why car manufacturers are putting social media technology into their cars.
Anyway, a subject that peaked my interest was comparisons of factors impacting on or causing accidents.Talking or texting on the phone is one that that police and others who examine the results of motor accidents look for by default these days.
Peggy quoted a study (can’t remember which university) where they found that people with a blood alcohol level of .08 performed better behind the wheel than people who were using their mobile phone. If you want more detail, listen to Peggy’s back shows on her website or on iTunes, the latest ones being about Debunking Myths about Cellphones and Driving.
Just putting that into context, most people think that dialing a number (I only dial on my hands-free via voice commands with Siri, or not at all these days) or sending a txt isn’t a big deal. I see ‘professional drivers’ holding their mobile up to their ear pretty much daily. One would assume they are sober, and mentally alert. I was also going to say relaxed, but if they were relaxed, they probably wouldn’t feel the need to take a personal risk, let alone knowing they are breaking the law; so you could surmise that they are already distracted and their minds are not on the road. Yet the study showed that drivers using their mobile were more distracted and less able to perform than those who were at a blood alcohol level where, according to a Blood Alcohol Chart on Wikipedia, they were at the upper range and would be experiencing:
- Impaired reasoning
- Reduced depth perception
- Reduced peripheral vision
- Reduced glare recovery; and behaviors including
- Blunted feelings
- Dis-inhibition; and
I really enjoy listening to music when I drive and I have a full subscription to Spotify. I love it. My iPhone FM Transmitter sends it to my car stereo, while charging my phone. I like that. I have been guilty of occasionally looking down at my iPhone for the name of an artist or to skip a track. Our maximum legal driving speed on motorways and highways in New Zealand is 100kmph. Often that is on highways where kids play or cycle on the side of the road. All it takes is for a ball to bounce onto the road, or wandering stock to change things in an instant.
So I thought I’d have a look at the numbers and went to the Unitarium online speed calculator. I worked out that if my eyes were on my phone for 3 seconds (doesn’t sound like much) whilst driving at a legal 100km per hour, my eyes would have left the road and I would have been oblivious to what was happening on it for 30 meters!
Have you ever done that?
Are you thinking about buying a new GPS Car Navigation device or application? I blogged on this topic last year and the blog proved to be incredibly popular, so its time for an update.
People still tell me that they know their way around and don’t need car navigation. Perhaps so, but they don’t know what the traffic is like on the way to their destination and real time traffic is one of the most valuable features of today’s car navigation devices.
As I write this, a storm has been forecast for most of the North Island. This means flooding, accidents and every man and his dog in Auckland has taken their car to work, which means a crawl on the motorways. Wouldn’t you like to know what roads to avoid?
TomTom includes the data used by AA Roadwatch, which is a great resource to check before you get in your car, but doesn’t help once you are driving and a new incident occurs. What is your time worth? Where would you rather be?
Over the last week I have been trying out the new TomTom GO 600 and have been comparing it with other brands and devices that I have used as well as with Google Maps on my iPhone which a lot of people are doing these days. I have been very impressed.
Now this blog is my opinion, and it is based on years of experience working in the industry with many brands of car navigation, including OEM in-car, Portable Navigation Devices (PND’s) and mobile applications.
Works Out of the Box. Getting started with the new device was a breeze. I plugged it into my computer and within a short period of time had the account set up, the latest maps (and a $20 credit for a purchase such as one of 103 different celebrity or funny voices) and was on my way. The user interface is the easiest I have seen to date, including previous TomTom devices.
Display Size. It has a 15cm (6″) touch screen which seems bigger than the unit that is built into my car dash. This is brilliant when it comes to data entry. My hands aren’t that big, but this does make life much easier when it comes to entering an address.
Finding Your Destination. It has never been easier. You used to have to know what suburb you were looking for, or go through menu’s to find a business. Now you just start entering data and tap the destination. It shows you how far to your destination and by default tells you where the nearest car parks are. There seem to be way less buttons and it is far more intuitive.
TomTom has come to the party with lifetime maps and lifetime real time traffic. That’s a big one for me because these devices are extremely reliable and knowing I don’t have to buy either of these again in the near future is a big plus. Don’t tell anyone I said this, but they last for years!
Up To Date Maps. Now you would think that all maps would be the same right? You would think that Google would be as up to date as anyone else right? Wrong. Having worked for a mapping company for 8 years, I know the investment that goes into keeping maps up to date and its a lot of work and expensive to maintain.
I tested the TomTom vs Google in new subdivisions in Auckland and Google was well out of date as you can see from the images.
This new subdivision in Long Bay is growing rapidly. The TomTom not only has all the roads that are open to the public, but also shows the new roads that will be opening in the next few weeks and months. Google only has about half of the actual roads in this location and people are moving into their new homes in the next month.
I’ve been at the end of the phone in a previous life when people rang to complain that their home or their business wasn’t on their brand new portable navigation device. Whilst many brands say they do updates ‘up to 4 times a year’, find out exactly what they updated and look for areas you might want to visit. The great thing is you can usually try a device out in the store before you buy.
TomTom Traffic. My last TomTom had a SIM Card in it and this was great until it expired and Real Time Traffic stopped working. It’s not a big deal to get it going again, but you had to pay for an update. The new TomTom ‘tethers’ to my mobile. That means that it uses my iPhone (wireless) to access the Internet (just for traffic data and it doesn’t use much at all) and it was so easy to set up! I’d never tethered a device to my iPhone before, but it was done in no time and worked first time.
TomTom uses a combination of real time traffic information from commercial GPS tracked vehicles as well as other TomTom users and is very accurate. They have been doing it around the world for a few years now and have the ability to differentiate what is normal and what isn’t. They have important data such as actual speed zones for the whole country.Some solutions decide what the speed zone might be, based on observed speeds. if we all observed the speed zones, they wouldn’t need the ‘safety camera‘ feature:)
I’ve had situations, such as with the mobile application Waze, where it warned me of slow traffic, which was in fact just normal traffic waiting at a red traffic light. TomTom also has ‘journalistic data’ which often explains why there is a problem and it offers you the choice of alternate routes while you are driving. you can preset it to automatically change to the best route or manually instruct it.
Traffic isn’t just about density either. TomTom knows about planned road maintenance, it knows that the motorway north is going to close at 8PM. It knows the best way to bypass that including the impact of the people who didn’t know it was going to be closed and created extra congestion.
It shows you where on your route the delays are, what time impact they will have on your journey and how much farther the congestion goes for in distance.
Have you ever been in a queue of people wanting to get on the Auckland Harbour Bridge from Herne Bay, finding its closed and trying to work out how to get to Fanshawe Street on a cold wet winter’s night? I have. That’s when I remind myself that knowing the way isn’t all there is to navigation.
But wait there is more. I’m not going to go into every feature, like tap and go, pinch to zoom and a 2 hour battery life, but there are a few really important things that will make a difference for you.
- Fast Response. One of the acid-tests for car navigation is what happens when you don’t follow the instructions. I used to do this a part of my job. You get distracted and you miss the turn the nav told you to take. Then as you drove it took time trying to process that you are no longer following its instructions and you subsequently missed the next street you could have taken. Not any more, and this is another advantage of a dedicated device. It reacts almost instantly and patiently guides you back on track.
- 3D Buildings. You may not think this is important, but it can help you orient yourself in a busy urban center, and it’s cool.
- Advanced Lane Guidance. This used to be limited to motorways, but now also includes many major roads. Kiwi drivers in cities are not great about letting you in when you find yourself in the wrong lane. Getting in the right lane early can save you a lot of grief. Again, currency of maps is really important. Highways are being modified constantly. (Tip: tapping on the lane guidance screen will return it to normal nav mode if you don’t want to wait)
- IQ Routes. With masses of people sharing their driving information with TomTom, it uses intelligence to learn from their behavior. If most people ignore the instructions of the GPS because they have local knowledge, there is probably a reason for it and this data gets added to the equation. That’s pretty smart.
I love the TomTom GO 600. I still believe that a separate device (especially with the big screen ) is the best way to go. It is designed for a purpose and leaves your phone to do the other things it was designed to do. I love the way it uses my phone for real time traffic so I don’t have to worry about the service expiring.
TomTom does have apps for iPhone and Android devices and they do work on the basis that you download all the maps and software onto your device so you don’t have to pay to download map data as you drive. They have nice features including muting your music to hear the instructions, navigation to your contacts (Navman used to do that on my Palm) integration with your calendar and your social media including Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and even SMS functionality. I might do another blog on that at some stage. One important difference is the GPS antenna. The GPS on your dedicated nav device is far more accurate and this can be important, as I mentioned previously, on a busy road when you miss the turn you wanted.
Whilst Google has some good new features and is ‘free’, it still uses a lot of mobile data and that costs money forever unless you work for a telco. Don’t take my word for it. Use a data usage application on your mobile before you start a journey and check it when you finish. Multiply that mobile data cost over the number of times you might use navigation over a year and you may find buying a dedicated device is cheaper. I know you can cache Google data to your mobile now, but I’m not convinced it is a better choice. Then of course there is information such as local speed zones and currency of maps.
I still use Google when I’m walking and using public transport locally and overseas.
When you compare car nav devices, don’t make the mistake that some reviewers make and test in urban centers where things don’t change much. Test it in areas where there are new motorway extensions, new suburbs, changes to intersections. Urban centers don’t change much, although Wellington turned some of its 1-way streets in the opposite direction and of course there were the Christchurch earthquakes which changed everything!
As I said, this is my opinion based on many years of professional experience. I welcome feedback and your comments on your experiences.
Have you ever been short of the taxi fare and don’t have cash or credit on your card? Ever had teenagers coming home after midnight and had to get out of bed to pay the fare? Ever had a cab driver saying you can’t split the fare on multiple credit cards.
Let’s face it, the taxi industry hasn’t got the greatest rep and when it comes to paying, it can be a pain sometimes for the average person. Ever been out on the town and want to split the fare? If it’s cash its not a problem, but if its EFTPOS or Credit Cards, its likely that the taxi driver doesn’t want to know. It takes time and may involve extra fees and also paperwork for reconciling fares and tips at the end of the day’s work.
What about the stories of people who call cabs but don’t have any money. Perhaps they want to stop at an ATM or gas station on the way, which is likely to ring alarm bells for the driver. What about the situation where they say their parents, or someone at home will pay when they get there, also a bit of a worry. You can see why the industry has problems and understand the situation from both sides.
Uber seems to have a lot of the answers which is possibly why a lot of other taxi companies don’t like them and some smarter ones are trying to emulate them.
As you can see on the image, you don’t even have to know where you are in order to hail a cab, just set the location on a map using the mobile’s GPS and they can not only confirm where you are, but they can also easily identify the nearest cab, not the one who is most keen to get the job.
What I think is really cool about this is that the people sharing the fee can be anywhere. It could be friends, family or your boss. They don’t even have to be in the same town, your parents could be out of state on holiday and still pay for your fare.
What this reinforces to me is that businesses need to listen to their customers. They need to understand what it is to be a customer, that’s why shows like Undercover Boss are so good. Every manager in a business should be an incognito customer from time to time.
There are established companies who innovate, but it is much easier for companies to just do what they usually do, BAU and therein lies the trap for old players and the opportunities for old and new.
Even better, get someone from outside to look at your business, who has no legacy. Get them to look at it from the perspective of the key people in the business and their clients. But most of all, ask the tough questions of your customers and listen to the answers. They might just help you stay profitable.
If Uber was in my city, I’d use them. These are smart entrepreneurs who are disrupting a well established business model with ease.